Infantry combat not for women, says battle-tested female Marine captain
July 21, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - America’s compulsive feminist impulse has pushed women into ever-more unconventional roles, but if Marine Captain Katie Patronio has her way, one of them will never be infantry combat.
In an article for the Marine Corps Gazette, Captain Petronio advises the military to “Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal,” opining that women’s bodies are not able to take the punishment of long military careers involving infantry operations, and warning that the Marines will experience “a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females” if they are placed in such roles.
Petronio drew on her own difficult experience in combat conditions, which ended in serious physical damage despite a promising start in the elite military branch.
The Marine captain notes that she “fit the mold” of an ideal female combat soldier when she began her career. “I was a star ice hockey player at Bowdoin College, a small elite college in Maine, with a major in government and law. At 5 feet 3 inches I was squatting 200 pounds and benching 145 pounds when I graduated in 2007.” She also “scored far above average in all female-based physical fitness tests” while undergoing training.
“Five years later, I am physically not the woman I once was and my views have greatly changed on the possibility of women having successful long careers while serving in the infantry,” Petronio writes. “I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll continuous combat operations will have on females.”
Petronio’s problems began when she was deployed to where she found herself “participating in numerous combat operations.” Although she began as a “motivated, resilient second lieutenant,” she developed a case of restless leg syndrome, due to the compression of her spine on her lower back. However, her sufferings were negligible in comparison with her experiences in Afghanistan, where she was next deployed into the infantry.
Although in the beginning, even with her back injury, she was “physically capable of conducting combat operations for weeks at a time, remaining in my gear for days if necessary and averaging 16-hour days of engineering operations,” the ongoing stress and lack of sleep “ultimately took a physical toll on my body that I couldn’t have foreseen,” writes Petronio, explaining that her legs began to atrophy and buckle, and her mobility fell. After seven months, she had lost 17 pounds, stopped producing estrogen, and even developed polycystic ovarian syndrome, which rendered her sterile.
“I went from breaking school records, to being broken, in a matter of a short amount of time,” she told CNN in a subsequent interview.
Although she successfully completed her deployment, she admits that it would be impossible for her to endure such stresses with the male infantryman over the long term, and continuing service in such a role would have required her to leave the military for medical reasons before retiring.
“I understand that everyone is affected differently,” writes Petronio, but adds that she is “confident that should the Marine Corps attempt to fully integrate women into the infantry, we as an institution are going to experience a colossal increase in crippling and career-ending medical conditions for females.”
Patronio states, “There is a drastic shortage of historical data on female attrition or medical ailments of women who have executed sustained combat operations. This said, we need only to review the statistics from our entry-level schools to realize that there is a significant difference in the physical longevity between male and female Marines.”
Petronio also expresses concern over the groups that are pushing for the integration of women into infantry roles.
“Who is driving this agenda? I am not personally hearing female Marines, enlisted or officer, pounding on the doors of Congress claiming that their inability to serve in the infantry violates their right to equality,” she writes, adding that the idea is being pushed by a “small committee of civilians appointed by the Secretary of Defense,” called the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS). Although some have military experience, none of the members “are on active duty or have any recent combat or relevant operational experience relating to the issue they are attempting to change,” notes Petronio.